Josef von Baky
March 5, 1943
"Now we can again present our business cards to the world."-- Joseph Goebbels, in his diary, February 9, 1943
By early spring 1943, Germany had suffered disastrous losses on the Eastern Front in the bloody, six-month-long Battle of Stalingrad. American troops had been fighting in Europe for over a year, and the Nazis were also under attack in North Africa.
Münchhausen was a lavish, special-effects-filled, early color production with a huge budget. Goebbels was impressed with big budget Hollywood films like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz and he wanted the film to showcase German know-how. German audiences welcomed a two-hour escape from the war to the magical adventures of Münchhausen -- the film was one of the most popular films produced during the Nazi era.
The film traces the fantastic exploits of Hieronymous Karl Friedrich, Baron von Münchhausen, an 18th-century German nobleman whose tall tales had been embellished in German literature and early film. In this version, the Baron travels to St. Petersburg where he becomes Catherine the Great's lover and joins the Russian military to fight the Turks. He's taken prisoner in Constantinople but escapes with a princess to Venice, where he meets up with an aging Casanova, who marvels at the Baron's vitality. Münchhausen's final fantastic trip is a balloon ride to the moon.